By Merritt Frey
Every June ninth graders all around Mali face their biggest academic challenge yet -- the national graduation exam, known as the DEF. Our students survived the exam this year and exceeded the national pass rate!
This three and a half day exam tests the students on everything from essay writing to algebra to history. Students must pass the exam in order to continue to high school and some vocational programs, so it is a high stakes test. Over the last several years, the national pass rate has hovered around 30-33%. This leaves many students forced to retake the exam the following year...or even years.
This year the national average pass rate was 48%, up quite a bit from the previous year's 30% pass rate. Our schools’ average was 50%, up slightly from 47% the year before. Our 18 middle schools had a wide range of results (from a low of 13% to a high of 100%), and we are examining these to see if we can find patterns to help guide our investments in strategies that help students succeed.
What does this mean at its core? In a nutshell: because of donors like you, this year 482 girls and boys in Mali graduated and are now set to continue on to careers that will improve their lives and Mali!
Nine of our 18 middle schools improved their pass rate this year; five received lower pass rates. (Several schools are new to the exam this year and one had a data limitation. Two of our schools are elementary schools, so don't take the exam at all.)